Jamaica Street Open Studio Preview Night

In the hub of Bristol’s artistic community, Stokes Croft, Jamaica Street Studios is sandwiched in-between all kinds of bustling businesses.  Its looming tallness in this industrial setting, oozes creativity.

Having literally just eaten a meal with a friend, I plodded up the masses of stairs like Mr Creosote, but it was worth it.

Three or more floors filled with a warren of art studios of all descriptions.  Although I had never visited before, it felt familiar.  I think it was because it reminded me of the days I spent visiting my Sister’s studio (Cockpit studios, Holborn, central London) and those fun days of attending the final shows of many a friend over the years at Camberwell Art College.  In those days, I just went for the bar!

I went with my best mate and business Partner, Andy the Framer (well, you’ve got to let him out from the back sometimes!).  Incidentally, if you are a Framer and you don’t go to these things, why not?    Forget framing the sometimes quite frankly dull limited edition prints from some of those corporate art publishers (mentioning no names), or as we like to call them “Clinton Art”, get out there and grab some inspiration from the real and dirty world!

Masses of wonderful pieces on show and too many to mention here I’m afraid.  The one’s that stick in my mind are:

Karin Sabine Krommes – woe!  The level of detail!  Don’t think Andy was as keen as me but I just loved the way she’s made technical drawing an art form.  I’m not normally a precise and neat type of person, but it drew me in.  What can I say?  She paints bits of aeroplanes and machinery, as you know I don’t read about an artist before I go or before I write about them, so I’m sure there is some kind of metaphor behind the paintings.  I don’t care, I just found them fascinating.

Elaine Jones – the richness of colour was what struck me (light olive green seems to stick in my head).  What I liked, from a framing point of view, was that she had painted the frame and back board, which the painting was mounted on, in cream.  I know, it’s a little detail, but one that has really paid off.

Too many artists (on my soap box again!) just slap on the obligatory white paint to frames and backgrounds and stick them on white walls.  I get so bored of this lack of imagination from creative people.  I can see that when white is right it can look stunning and shows off a piece superbly.

The creamy richness compliments and enhances her beautiful works.  There was one nearest the window on the wall as you walk in, and the olive greens in the picture, were being picked up and reflected in the cream.  Gorgeous!

Trish Lock – wow!  We were both agreed that her Angels and Guardians collection was both haunting and strangely compelling at the same time.  Her paper sculptures pinned to white boards are stunning.  I’m not sure I liked the Perspex display box on some of them; they just seemed too functional and cold as box frames go.  I’m not sure what you could do with them, if you were thinking of “framing” them, but I’m sure Andy could come up with a more pleasing solution, if they need to be kept away from the ravages of dust.

Andrew Hood – this was a surprise for me.  At first glance I wasn’t sure I liked it and nearly passed it by.  Then, I fell in love with his tiny painted figures!  I could just look at his work all day long.  How on earth do you manage to produce a recognisable figure out of just making shapes with your paint brush?  Very skilful I thought.  Not being able to paint or draw myself, this blew my mind (OK, so it doesn’t take much to do that!).  Yes, I know you get taught techniques at art school but still, it’s a talent.  I wasn’t keen on the “portraits” on the wall to the right though.  Still, very clever.

In a dark, dark house, there’s a dark, dark room and in the dark, dark room, there’s a dark, dark cupboard and in the dark, dark cupboard, there’s Tom Mead!  Yes, in the broom cupboard, sits Mr Mead (well, if it’s good enough for Philip Schofield…).  I’ve written only a couple of weeks ago about Mr Mead’s work in my Antlers Gallery review, so I won’t go on too much.  I’m so pleased he lives in a cupboard!  Whilst everyone else looks for natural light, inspiration from the sky, draws ideas from flora and fauna, I can imagine Mr Mead locked away for days, creating a Frankenstein of a painting!

I think I called it a hovel, which I really didn’t mean Mr Mead and I wholly apologise, I meant it in a nice way!  It kind of looks like the set from Blur’s Beetlebum video.  I’ve already said how much I admire his work and I know Andy does too.  I wish I had the money right now to buy an original.

Look out for his playing card packs (which are really popular).  Andy is going to frame and present a set on our “wall of frame” in our new framing workshop in October (alongside one of Rose Sanderson’s from her bird series).  Watch this space.

Jack from Antlers, who represents Mr Mead on the sales front, is thinking of taking his collection of artists on the road.  A UK tour perhaps?  I think this is a fab idea, everyone deserves to see these works.

There’s never time to just take it all in and I wish I could have just stayed and soaked it all up but alas that would have been very unsociable of me!

I also liked the cement wallpaper works produced by Ria Wilcox.

The final artist who sticks in my mind is Jemma Grundon.  I have been “following” her on Twitter for a while now and seen her work online.  Although they look gorgeous, nothing compares to seeing her pieces in the flesh.  When I walked into the space which she shares, I was swept off my feet.  I’m really not a landscape/seascape kind of girl, but wow I want that painting!  It’s got a kind of moodiness to it, but it’s not at all dark.  It’s pleasant but stormy.  It’s soft but hard.  That’s it, I can’t really describe it, go and see for yourself!

The studios are open all this weekend, finishing on Sunday 24th July 2011.  I strongly recommend you go and feast your eyes.

On the framing side, generally very good level of framing, some had obviously invested in professional mounting and framing.

Some I could tell were ready frames that had been repainted and the mounts were standard (you can usually tell from the thickness of the board).  Repainting is fine if you are doing it as part of the artwork, and/or because you really like it.  Not fine if you are doing it purely from a cost point of view.  Sorry but that’s my opinion!

There was some really lovely reclaimed wood built box frames they always look really creative and add to the feel of a piece.  I do remember one in particular though on the first run of studios, that looked like a black ready frame and if you look inside has load of black bits hanging about inside, which just stands out a mile to my eye.  I find this mildly annoying and I would be put off buying a piece in this situation (even before I was in the framing business).

Yes, it takes ages to make sure most foreign objects are outside not inside (and heck you can’t always be perfect).  Chasing bits of fluff around for 2 hours can be mind numbing.  So give it to a Framer then!  That’s their job and why they charge for their time and patience!  It just looks really slack and ill thought out otherwise!

But all in all, not bad framing.

Location: 39 Jamaica Street, Stokes Croft, Bristol BS2 8JP

T: 0117 924 117

W: jamaicastreetartists.co.uk


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